The construction of Mangla Dam by Pakistan in 1963 displaced the inhabitants of what is now called, “Old Mirpur’ which is now under the Mangla water. Some of the displaced people were resettled in neighboring Punjab and some of them in what was to become “the New Mirpur” as we see it today. A large number of Kashmiris from new Mirpur migrated to Britain for a better life. Initially, they intended to earn enough money to rebuild their houses in the New Mirpur and then return home, but gradually, Britain became their permanent home. Our children born and brought up in the UK have made a significant contribution to the host British society. There are many successful businessmen , academics and politicians. Britain must be credited and praised for the space it has given to the Diasporas.
However, our elders complain of a social and political gap between them and their UK born children. To be more specific, complaints are about youths lack of interest in Kashmir Cause and the Islamic tradition. Let us analyse.
I don’t agree that our British Kashmiri youths are not interested in the Kashmir Cause. Many Kashmiri youths have raised their voice against the British ruling opposition parties’s pro Israel policies over human rights abuses in Gaza. Some of the Kashmiri MPs condemned their government policy and a number of councillors have resigned. They continue to protest against Israeli war crimes and British government’s support for it. The reason why the Kashmiri youths are not involved similarly in Kashmir cause is their opposition to importation of Kashmiri and Pakistani politics into the UK, which they quite rightly believe is destructive and divisive. Bradari, tribal and hereditary politics has no place and future in the UK. Secondly, most Kashmiri elders have no United narrative on Kashmir, unlike Palestine. Conflicting, contradictory and unrealistic approach to Kashmir had kept the youths away from their ancestral home.
Another factor that has caused division and disenchantment between Kashmiri youths and their elders is the professional Islamic faith rather than the Divine Faith. Elders are divided into Maslak preached by semi-educated Mullahn and Pirs, who use Islam just to make money. Most of the pirs don’t do any job, but they live a lavish and luxurious life at the expense of their sincere but naive followers. Anyone questioning the pirs of their source of income is condemned as a sinner.
In comparison, the British-Kashmiri Youths study and investigate Islam. Therefore, their understanding of Islam is far better, refined and superior than that of some of their elders, who mainly follow cultural and conflicting Islam rather tha the Divine Islam.
Finally, I would urge our elders in the UK to be more actively engage with their children and listen to their views to benefit from their knowledge. The elders do not necessarily always know better. Knowledge is not confined to age, race and space.